It is so good to be back aboard Waves of Grace and on the move south! We arrived at Osprey Marina in SC on Thursday, Dec. 29th and were greeted with sunshine in the 70's! It was wonderful! We loaded up the boat, filled the water and fuel tanks, and got some sleep. On Friday we celebrated New Year's Eve a day early in Murrell's Inlet with a bucket of oysters and a view of the water from our table at Nance's Restaurant. This morning we left at 7:00 and motored the ICW south for 79 miles. We are at Mile 452 anchored in Whiteside Creek where we can see the fireworks from Charleston, 11 miles south. I took this photo of the sunrise on the ICW through the trees...they look like they are on fire.
We are at the new dock that Miles put in for long-term cruisers here at Osprey Marina. It is lovely with two docks, lighting, and a 1/4 mile path to the club house.....but we have an electric golf cart to drive to and fro....sweet! Tomorrow we head home for two months. We'll return here after Christmas and continue south to Marathon and then the Bahamas.
We were surprised this morning to find a Catholic Church directly across from us in the Wrightsville Beach anchorage. We just went to the dinghy dock and five minutes later we were in church....how nice! We spent the afternoon and night anchored in the Pipeline Canal, Mile 311. The water was really shallow coming in as we hit low tide...I tried to anchor in .01 inches of water but we decided to move over to 7'. We all walked to the Dead End Grill for some refreshments before dinner. This is a great spot with beautiful new docks and a park next door.
We had a great ocean run today from Beaufort to Masonboro Inlet, something we haven't done before. We had 10-15 knots of wind off of our quarter stern and made fantastic time. The inlet has recently been dredged to 30' and the red nuns are in place so it was a very easy harbor to enter. We went to the dinghy dock near the bridge and then to the beach for a walk.....what a great stop. There have been more and more cruising boats on the move and then anchored at night....everyone is headed to warmer climes!
We arrived in lovely Beaufort, NC this afternoon and anchored in Taylor's Creek in front of the Boardwalk on Front Street. The sunset was beautiful viewed from the outside deck of the Dock House Restaurant where we could see Waves of Grace anchored and FUI in her slip at the town dock.
We arrived at Bill and Mary White's docks in front of their lovely home on the Bay River, Mile 161 after 4-5 hours of more 26 knot winds on the Pungo and Pamlico Rivers. Bonnie and Sid on Fui arrived as well and we were treated to great southern hospitality. Mary cooked a delicious dinner and Bill told some great stories. So nice to be with boating friends that we met in Marathon two years ago. Bill is very proud of his new sports car-a Crossfire....she sure is sweet! We saw the same kind of destruction in this area from hurricane Irene that we saw in the Owego and Albany areas....so many docks ruined, homes flooded, people displaced, and trees down. Mary said that it will take about four years to rebuild everything.
We are anchored here at Mile 127 in the Pungo River. Yesterday we crossed Albemarle Sound and did the Alligator River after leaving our anchorage at Broad Creek.(Didn't see any alligators...) Bonnie and Sid took the Dismal Swamp Route and met us around 6:30. With the high winds and rain predicted for today we stayed here and caught up on out reading. The weather cleared up later and I caught this pretty sunset just as we were about to eat our dinner in the cockpit.
The paradox of sailing the Chesapeake.....one minute it's an adrenaline rush of controlling the boat in 28knots with 4-5' waves and winds on the nose, to the next minute of feeling beat up and helpless with 31knots making less than 3knots with reefed sails and engine.....oh and 30 miles to go! Needless to say we are spending two days here in Great Bridge just to recover. Darell from Y-Knot, on his Cataline 36, is right in front of us at the town dock. We met 2 years ago in Vero and then in Marathon. He had great adrenaline sailing stories to share as well. There are stores, restaurants, parks, churches and laundromats here. Love it!
We love stopping here in the Solomon's Islands. We are anchored in front of the Holiday Inn where their is a $2.00 dinghy dock. Just a short walk away you'll find a grocery store, McDonald's and a West Marine. Yesterday we went to the town dock with Bonnie and Sid for happy hour at Catamaran's....$1.00 drafts and $5.00 dinners. Today we toured the Maritime Museum which features a real screw-pile light house. I also learned about the mermaid's purse which is laid by skates and then the little skates hatch on their own. Unlike skates, manta rays have live births. Tomorrow we head to Deltaville.
We visited with Yasmine and Roy here in Back Creek to catch up on their stories about their passage from Quebec to the Atlantic and then down the US coast....Maine, Mass and the Cape Cod Canal. We last saw these two sailors at happy hour at Katlynn Marine just before they sailed to the St. Lawrence and out into heavy seas, swells, high winds, fog, 20 foot tides, freezing temps and loneliness! Not a trip for the faint of heart. Congrats to you guys....you've got guts!
Ahh...to be at the Annapolis Boat Show Columbus Day Week-end, anchored in Back Creek on your own boat.....does it get any better than this? Oh and it's sunny and warm! There are sailboats anchored everywhere here and downtown Annapolis is packed with happy people having a good time. We went to church with Bonnie and Sid at the Naval Academy this morning and then attended three seminars at the show: How to Trim your Sails, Attitude Adjustment by Bob Bitchin HIMSELF!, and Cruising the Abacos. They were all worth our time. We even bought a two-day pass so we are going back to the show all day tomorrow. Bad news from Catalina......they stopped production last year of our 42 and also the 320. They have down-sized to only four ocean cruisers and they have closed their original plant in California because of too many EPA regulations. Leave it to the government to regulate the heck out of small business here in the States.
Today the tides were against us for 11 hours out of a 12 hour passage.....how can that be? Well, if the tide is not in your favor as you enter the Delaware Bay, as you go further north it stays against you as you travel further from the ocean. However the sun was shining and we made it to the basin anchorage. Ranger jumped into the dinghy and missed so he's all clean now. This town is so quaint and lovely. They are showing the Wizard of Oz on an outside screen in the town park near the canal and the popcorn machine is working over time. Cruising is the best!
We left NYC at 6:45 AM and anchored on the east side of the bridge here in Atlantic City at 6:30 PM. We always seem to put in a 12 hour day on the water. It was a near perfect sailing day with winds 15-20 knots most of the way. We no sooner got situated in the anchorage when Bonnie and Sid called to warn us that the sailboat in front of us had pulled anchor and was dragging down the channel. Walt hailed Tow Boat US who had us call the coast guard (they didn't answer) and then he called the State Police. By this time it's dark, the boat is dragging faster and faster in the current. Finally the police come out to fetch the sailboat...and out of the corner of my eye I see an unlit dinghy being rowed by someone going by our boat and towards the police boat and the sailboat. Yep, it's this guy's boat.....the police pick him up and ticket him for no lights in the dinghy or on his sailboat. Hey....he didn't lose his boat!
We have arrived in NYC this afternoon and we are anchored in NJ at Liberty State Park, behind the Statue of Liberty. Gary and Annette Grant introduced us to this quiet, secure spot and we love it. Thanks guys! We had our mast put up at Hop-O-Nose Marina on Catskill Creek and as luck would have it they were serving a free prime rib dinner as customer appreciation day! It was wonderful! Yesterday we met up with Bonnie and Sid in the Nyack anchorage. They shared dinner with us on their boat, FIU. Tomorrow we head out into the ocean for Cape May.
We were able to navigate the Champlain Canal in a day and a half despite the chilly, rainy and windy weather. We are tied up with several other sailboats and two trawlers in Waterford. Waterford looks a lot like Owego, NY......it has been devastated by the flood and there are blocks of houses that have completely ruined first floors. The furniture, carpeting, and wallboard are all in dumpsters and every window has a building permit taped to it. The docks here have no electric or water and some are ruined. The beautiful lawns and flowers are gone...covered with mucky mud. We have been advised to not use the mooring balls near Castleton on the Hudson where we planned to spend the night because the current in the Hudson is still too strong. The river is just filled to capacity. Two nights ago Lake Champlain had a downpour and received a foot of water. Wow.....and there's a hurricane near Bermuda! Hope we make the Annapolis Boat Show next week-end!
There is a bike/walking path along the entire 10 miles of the Chambly Canal. The lock keepers followed us in a golf cart from one set of locks to the next and then another lock-keeper followed us to the swing bridges to open them as we passed. This is why you could only pass through these locks either at 8:30 or 12:30 each day. The whole lock-thru took four and a half hours with all the workers helping just us three boats. You can see the Richelieu River adjacent to the canal.
The trip down the Chambly Canal and locks has made this whole trip worthwhile! At 8:30 AM a crew of 8-10 canal workers descended upon us..all smiles. They put all three sailboats at the waiting dock-our 42' Catalina, a 34' Tartan, and a 33' Beneteau all with very long masts sticking beyond bow and stern pulpits into a 100 ' longlock, 24'wide. It was a squeeze. The lock depths and doors are all attached to huge gears cranked by hand. One lock went to the next and then to a third followed by a swing bridge. It looked like German engineering to me!
I've seen everything now.....the party boat has a double four poster bed on the roof with curtains around it! And who would try to back up their RV onto a suspended deck so they have a view of the river? Bob, I bet that Greta would not let you pull a stunt like this!!!!
Locking through the St. Lawrence Seaway is a waiting game....how long will the lock-master make a pleasure boat wait before taking his $25-$30.00 fee per lock just for the privilege of a lock-thru? We sat in the Beauharnois lock for over an hour before they closed the gate and locked us through....another hour wait at the St. Catherine Lock...and almost another hour at the final Montreal lock of St. Lambert. We take the advice of a boat captain and anchor in front of the Longueuil Marina. All our stress drains away with some wine and cheese and a view of the Montreal skyline.
We made some great time today because of the current in the St. Lawrence. We pulled anchor at 0700 and headed into light fog which lasted til early afternoon. At first we impressed ourselves with a boat speed of 7 knots but as we passed Alex Bay and headed towards Brockville we were doing 9.6 knots which was awesome! Our chartplotter went blank after Brockville so we had to rely on our paper charts. Thankfully two tankers passed us so we followed them to the Iroquois Lock....the downside-we waited from 3:00-5:00 at the floating dock as commercial traffic has priority in these locks. We anchored south of Ogden Island for the night.
We visited the Erie Canal yesterday and it's a fact that several locks are disaster zones.....but nobody is giving out any info about when the canal will re-open. Thanks to Don and Suzi we now have the charts to try the St. Lawrence/ Lake Champlain exit south. On Thursday we saw this beautiful Lake Ontario sunset as we were pulling into Oswego. Today we un-stepped our mast and motored across to Cape Vincent for the night. The adventure to Montreal has begun......
We are amazed at the destruction that Hurricane Irene has caused to the Erie Canal. We are supposed to sail to Oswego today to begin our trip south to the Florida Keys....but the Canal is closed indefinitely. Check out this blog: www.tug44.org/flood/hurricane-irene-2011/. The Weather Channel is correct when it states "when weather changed history" and provides video of awful scenarios created by weather gone wild.
So, we are changing our plans, buying the charts for the Champlain locks and leaving this week for Montreal. We hope to be in the Hudson River at the end of next week.....weather permitting.
Walt and I have been avid sailors for 38 years. Our retirement dream was to sail to Florida and the Bahamas for the winter months which we did for the first time last year, 2007-2008. We decided that we loved the cruising life
and four days after our return to Lake Ontario we traded our Catalina 320, Eagle's Wings, in for a Catalina 42 which we named Waves of Grace. We hope to continue to cruise in the Florida Keys, Gulf of Mexico, and the Bahamas for many years to come